texts that make me 🥺.

I freaking love that I was born in the 21st century and have access to technology. Specifically, I love that I have access to my cell phone. I do so much on my phone – from taking pictures, setting up calendar notifications, replying to emails, scrolling through Instagram, posting my BeReals, etc.

Most of the time I’m beating myself up over the fact that I spend so much freaking time on my phone (during one college seminar, I was told that research says that we should only be spending 30 minutes a day on our phones. please 😭 I could never). However, those once-in-a-blue-moon days I have someone, who I haven’t spoken to in ages, text me and say “hey! how are you? i was thinking we can grab some brunch or coffee one day when you’re free?” I become ecstatic.

Envision an extremely cheesy and smiley teddy bear running around in circles. That’s me when I receive those kinda texts. It’s the fact that someone thought of me and they wanted to take their precious time out of their day to share that time with me that gets me so senti and amped up.

This is exactly why I am so obsessed with my fifty coffees because it’s usually one of those people that reaches out months later. This shows me that spending that intentional time with people makes them feel seen and valued, so they will always (or oftentimes) try to make space for that intentional time again and again.

This is your sign to text that person you’ve been meaning to text, but life kept getting in the way, that you wanna hang with them and grab a cup of coffee (or a beverage/meal of your choice). Go. Do it. Send me (on IG: @_esha.kode_) a picture of that text (if you feel like it) because I would love to see these authentic & raw connections that we’re building with each other!

A Colored Person’s Invisible Insecurity

There’s a familiar lump in my throat and weird squiggles in my stomach as I am writing this post. The content in this post has been largely unspoken about or said to any of my friends or family. Thus, knowing that once I finish, I’ll hit the “Publish” button is absolutely terrifying.

This post is about a colored person’s insecurities.

The insecurities that arise when you’re in a public place, such as your workplace, and you start having pounding palpitations when it’s time to open your Tupperware because you’re worried that the smell of the warm, cozy rasam rice will ‘offend’ the white folks near you.

The insecurities that arise when you’re at a restaurant with your white friends and you notice how their body language is different from yours, so you change yourself. You notice the perfect angle at which they placed their napkins on their lap, so you abide by the same ‘rules.’ You notice their eloquent nature when using a knife and fork, and force yourself to not use your hands to eat that taco.

The insecurities that arise when one of your white colleagues asks to see your Spotify because you’re almost embarrassed that your Spotify is only filled with ‘brown’ music.

The insecurities that arise when you pronounce a word wrong and fall deep into a pit assuming that the white people around you will ultimately blame your color and ancestral origin for your failed attempt at pronouncing a word the ‘American way.’

It’s as if the country expects you to erase your non-American culture and only embrace the American culture.

It’s suffocating.

These insecurities can be largely subconscious or conscious for many of us. For others, the lucky few, these insecurities simply may not exist.

The point is though that the burden to acclimate to the environment and society is placed on colored people. Instead, there should be no such burden. People, specifically white people, should be educated about the way colored people MAY feel around them and it is naturally their duty to ensure that they do not continue to uphold such stereotypical notions and ideas of minority groups.

For the longest time I thought it was my fault that I wasn’t as comfortable around white people as I was around colored people.

“It wasn’t until I was in PoC-only spaces that I realized how much of myself I had cut off to fit into white culture,” one person of color in Shambhala recently told me. “So being in PoC spaces allows me to reclaim those forgotten parts of myself.” – Citation

Thank God for the way media has allowed for more space amongst marginalized communities. Organizations and companies like Live Tinted are changing the face of diversity in the U.S. and knowing that children are growing up during such a revolutionary time is encouraging and comforting.

An Interesting Debate Over ‘Purpose’

The other day a doctor I was working with said to me:

“Many people don’t know what their purpose is, so they make their work their purpose.”

This stuck with me.

I thought anyone’s purpose would be embedded within their work because, at least for those of us who are privileged enough, they will choose to enter a profession that brings them the utmost joy and value. Becoming a surgeon has been my ‘purpose’ for over a decade, and that’s because I believe that this profession will enable me to build on my strongly held values, such as service and compassion.

However, when a doctor said that to me, I was forced to stop and reflect. If work isn’t my purpose, then what is? How do I find it?

The doctor was talking about how we, as students, should not take academics as seriously as we do being premeds and even as we grow older. This is because he believes that work should never engulf one’s entire life.

I agree with this wholeheartedly, however, I have a slight problem. I can’t even envision myself as having any other purpose. I don’t want my purpose to be limited to family, friends, or any one sector of my life. I want it to be more, and being a medical professional fulfils that desire for me.

Because I was so deep in confusion over what my purpose would be if I can’t rely on my future profession, I googled how we can find out our purposes.

According to Richard Leider, who is “a nationally-ranked coach and purpose expert…the equation for purpose is G + P + V = P.” (gifts passions values = purpose)

Let’s break this up.

Gifts

I’m not sure what my gifts are yet, but I’m sure I’ll discover them as I progress further.

Passions

My passions are deeply rooted in service, specifically in helping & advocating for children and mental health rights. I am also passionate about the performing arts. As a dancer and someone who grew up watching way too many Telugu/Hindi movies, I believe the performing arts has the ability to change one’s perspective on various occurrences within our world.

Values

This one is tough to reflect on as I have never actually sat down and thought about them.

Using the list from this website, I would say that these are my current values that I hold very dear to me:

  • family-orientedness
  • leadership
  • service
  • self-actualization

Purpose

Combining all three of these aspects, I would ideally find my purpose. However, we know that discovering what we truly want in life is not as simple as cracking down on an equation. I feel like our purpose can only be found by either experiencing a lot in life or by having a life-changing experience.

And maybe we don’t need to settle with having just one purpose. Maybe we’ll have more than one purpose and that’s okay. Maybe we won’t discover our purpose(s) until we take our final breaths and that’s okay too. And maybe one’s profession does become their purpose, while for others it’s just something that they’re passionate about but it’s not their true calling. It’s our life and we get to shape it in whatever we want to.

‘Empty’ Time

My Dad is currently in India on a work trip. When he calls me to check-in, he often asks “What are you doing? What are you up to?”

My go-to reply, with actually anyone who asks a similar question, is “Nothing.”

However, I’m never actually doing ‘nothing’ because doing ‘nothing’ starkly goes against the American Dream: the idea that one must keep hustling in order to achieve their goals and dreams. Doing ‘nothing’ is also terrifying because then that means all the thoughts that I’ve locked away can come back – with full force. Thinking about those thoughts is emotionally draining, so the best solution would be to just go-go-go.

Once you’ve been go-go-go-ing for quite some time, you start to notice how depleted and overloaded you feel. Many define this as ‘burnout.’ A lot of people (and information on the Internet) claim that the cure to burnout is to do things that bring joy. The thing is, though, many people actively schedule those joyful things into their day-to-day lives. The act of scheduling joy may be helpful for some, but I found that it was actually more detrimental for me.

“According to the Western perspective, filling every moment with “value added” activities is a sign of virtue and significance….The archetype of the virtuously over-busy person is so ingrained in our societal mind-set that it takes strong language to knock it loose.” – Martha Beck

When I schedule joy, I start to look at joy as a task that I need to check off. For example, let’s say I schedule “write a blog post at 2:00pm.” Writing and posting on this site is one of my creative passions that brings me lots of joy. However, it only brings me joy when it’s not a structured part of my life. Therefore, when I try to structure this passion of mine into my day-to-day To-Do list, I found that I actually begin to not like writing as much as I used to.

The key to prevent such backward healing is to schedule ’empty time.’

“Empty time is a powerful medicine that can make us more joyful and resilient, but it’s strangely hard to swallow.” – Martha Beck

Schedule ’empty time’ into your calendars. Do not title that block of time with anything – just write ’empty time.’ When you reach that period of time, then decide what you want to do. Do you want to just sit on your ass and stare at the walls? Do you want to journal all your crippling thoughts? Do you want to go out for lunch with your best friend? Do you want to go downstairs and chat with your family? Decide what to do in that moment. Lean in to the things that feel like home. For someone who likes to be in control and plans everything well in advance, this idea of being spontaneous during her ’empty time’ is an uncomfortable, but refreshing feeling.

Martha Beck does an incredible job of conveying the importance of having empty time here.

ily

i struggle to say the the words that hold such deep meaning in our world. i feel the feelings associated with those three words and yet the war inside my head ultimately prevents me from verbalizing those feelings. but, i feel it all and i love it all and i want to share it all.

“i love you” is beautiful. it’s a phrase that eloquently puts into words the feelings that twist and flutter our hearts. it’s a phrase that can break someone out of their trance and make them believe that they are enough. it’s a phrase that makes one feel protected.

it’s a phrase used for all kinds of relationships.

the “i love you” friendship: it’s meant for the friends who make us feel seen. the ones who will run to you when you’re in agonizing pain. the ones who will slap your face to bring you back to the world of the living. the ones who will force themselves to lie down next to you and not feel the need to fill the silence. the friends who are by no means ‘clingy’ – they are the ones who care. it is when you encounter friends like this that you have to compile all your emotions for that person in the most meaningful way possible and say “i love you” for who they are, for how they are, and for who they make you become.

the “i love you” romantic relationship: it’s meant for the partner(s) who makes our hearts a bit fluttery. it might take a minute to notice our hearts skipping some beats, feeling warm & fuzzy, and causing our bodies and souls to feel whole. it’s meant for the one who accepts you – completely and utterly. the partner who never ever judges you for your ever changing appearance and the one who stays no matter how much your appearance does and will change. it’s meant for the partner that makes you feel like your ambitions and hard work matter. it’s that partner who deserves the “i love you” because it is impossible to say anything else that can perfectly encapsulate everything that you’re feeling.

the “i love you” family: it’s meant for the familial members who are on a life-long learning path. the members who never judge you for who you are and how you have evolved. it’s meant for the members who are there when you’re rich and there when you’re poor. it’s for the members who make you feel rich with emotions and generosity. it’s meant for the members who let you live the way you need to live. these members will be by your side until your very last breath. say it to them. tell them “i love you.”

“i love you” is powerful, bold, and authentic.

“i love you” is not discriminatory, prejudiced, or racist.

“i love you” is gentle, wholesome, and sweet.

i love you.

Bodies, Bodies, Bodies

In all honesty, I was terrified to draft and publish this blog post because it’s forcing me to write down and reflect on my CURRENT thoughts. All my other posts are generally things that I’ve dealt with and thought about in the past, so it’s easier to reflect because I moved past that stage already. This topic, on the other hand, seems to always be a part of me no matter how hard I try to move past it. Thus, I was prompted to draft this post because I’ve been feeling this way since the beginning of this year. I hope it resonates with those of you who feel a similar way.

TW: body image issues, eating disorders

To begin, my first exposure to the Eurocentric ideas of a woman’s body began in eighth grade (which is, unfortunately, extremely late compared to children today). Up until eighth grade, I ate whatever and whenever I wanted to. I balanced nutritious food with possibly less nutritious food. I didn’t spend so much time thinking about food, my body, or anything related to my appearance.

Once in eighth grade, my athletic friends began to speak about how they have to go for a run to burn the calories from their unhealthy lunch or my aunts would comment on my supposedly ‘large love handles’ or I’d only see certain types of bodies being represented on TV shows I’d watch. Being around such stimuli began my so-called ‘fitness journey.’

I’d stop eating an actual meal during lunch and would rely on a pack of spicy Doritos or an ice cream bar to sustain me throughout the day. Once I came home at 4:00pm, instead of feeding my starving body, I’d force myself to run 2 miles on the treadmill nearly every day. On the days I skipped the running, I’d brutally criticize myself and would even sometimes punish myself by not eating dinner. When my mother would ask or try to force me to eat, I’d brilliantly win our arguments and claim that I was full and could not eat anything.

This same mindset trickled into my freshman year of high school. I’d eat an ice cream bar for lunch and proceed to go home and run a couple miles on the treadmill. Starting sophomore year, I started sharing my lunches with my friends, which worked out better for me because I was actually eating proper meals (chicken tenders, french toast, wraps, etc.). However, I kept trying to run every day.

Moving onto junior year of high school, the first few months I’d wake up at 4:45am to go to the gym with my dad. I’d do some cardio and abs while my dad did his own routine. We’d make it back home by 6:00, and then I’d stuff my face with some breakfast and hop on the bus to go to school. Though this time of my life taught me how to set a disciplined routine, I wasn’t able to stick with it for a long time because I was getting so drained while at school. I still remained pretty inconsistent with my ‘workouts’ during this phase.

Starting senior year, I was sick of my inconsistent running and bored of doing the same thing all the time and still seeing no results. That’s when I began getting more involved with fitness. I added some resistance training, Youtube workouts, and attempted to eat ‘healthier.’ I believe this is when I started to become more strict with labeling food as being either ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Therefore, my body image was still nowhere near perfect because I’d continue to get tempted and eat the ‘bad’ food. I’d binge on food and would proceed to absolutely hate myself and my decision making after.

Finally in August 2020, during the pandemic, I begged and convinced my mom to get me a personal trainer. My trainer’s name was Harrison James and he singlehandedly changed my life. He changed my perception of food, fitness, and bodies. I spent a year training with him for about 3-4 times a week and that will forever be one the most important and life-changing parts of my life.

He taught me that food is fuel. Food is essential to ensure our bodies function the way they’re supposed to. Most importantly, he taught me to eat until I was actually full. Before, I used to eat for the sake of eating or not eat anything at all. With Harrison, I began eating 3-4 eggs every day for breakfast, added more brown rice for lunch, drank a smoothie every day, AND also continued eating the ‘bad food’ when I wanted to. My labeling of food began to dissipate. I ate until I was full and that was such a unique and satisfying feeling.

Harrison also taught me that fitness is not about becoming skinny. It’s about feeling strong. Before, my goal was to look like a stick. With Harrison, my goal became to tone up my body to be able to survive my days for a longer period of time, lift things with more ease, and overall, appear to have a bigger personality so that I could radiate my confidence better.

Unfortunately, once in-person college began, I could no longer continue training with him. Therefore, I transitioned to working out in my college dorm room throughout the fall semester. I would say that I was consistent enough and also maintained a pretty balanced diet.

It’s when spring semester began that I started to revert back to pre-personal trainer days. I became so much busier with extra-curriculars, academics, and social events that I no longer had the time or energy to workout or eat with as much balance as I used to. I was eating random food at random times, sleeping at wack times, barely working out. Even when I did workout, I’d get tired so much more easily and lacked the normal amount of motivation that I used to have. I noticed how my body changed (and in my eyes, it was not in a good way). I’d spend so much time thinking about my food consumption and waste so much more time hating myself for the way I looked.

At the time of me writing this post, I feel uncomfortable in my own skin because I’ve spent years trying to undo the damage that I and society have caused to it. However, I’m in this constant seesaw battle where I hate the way I look, BUT I also hate that I’m reverting back to defining myself based on my appearance. I want to go back to the times when I would be able to consistently work out because my goal, at the time, was to feel strong and release those endorphins. I was not focused on getting chiseled and looking a certain way. I want to go back to the time I could eat whatever I want and still respect my skin, my body, and myself. I want to go back, but in order to do so, I need to move forward and understand that bodies change. Bodies change so much throughout a single day, so imagine how much they’ll change throughout the years.

Camila Cabello does a much better job of putting my exact feelings into words here:

I want to end this reflection with a note to myself and all of you:

Let’s work tirelessly to replace all of the teachings of our patriarchal world. Let’s just be kind to our strong, beautiful, curvy bodies. Let’s not let anyone (including our parents, best friends, significant others, and anyone else) make us feel as though we are only defined by the way we look. Let’s give ourselves as much permission as needed to eat – whatever we need to fuel our bodies. Let’s make a vow to ourselves to seek for resources to help us heal because we are worthy of healing. Let’s love and allow ourselves to be loved. ❤️

Dear FutureMe…

It was my birthday on April 8th. I just turned 20 and I’m still feeling a bit lost and unworthy of a lot of things. New insecurities have manifested, some of the old ones are still present. It’s a work in progress.

I opened my email today and found this note I wrote to myself on my 19th birthday to give to my future 20 year old self. It warmed my soul <3.

Dear Diary

It’s currently 9:06am. I just finished a sweaty workout and am sitting on my Yoga mat with my gross hair in a bun, listening to Too Young to Burn and simply just vibing.

It’s been a hell of a couple weeks ya’ll. I feel like I’ve been getting whipped by a belt for the past month with the amount of stuff that I had to do academically, socially, even emotionally.

Today was different though.

My alarm went off at 6:00am. I physically just was not in a position to wake up, so my alarm went off again at 6:15am. Could not get up again. Alarm went off at 6:30am. I was awake. At least I thought I was. But then I check my phone again and it’s 7:11am.

I had a moment of panic, but then I smiled. I smiled at the fact that I gave myself enough grace to just sleep. I haven’t done that in a while. It felt good to just give myself unconditional love and permission to rest. I gradually got up at 7:30am, did my morning routine, got my cup of coffee, and submitted an assignment.

And then I finally got a workout in. I forced myself to stop working and just sweat it out. I am immensely grateful that I listened to myself because I just feel so freaking rejuvenated right now. It may also have to do with the fact that I was listening to Dr. Santos’s podcast while working out. The episode on Guilt made me feel incredibly validated. Listening to something that brought joy to my soul while simultaneously sweating my ass off with Kayla Itsines’s workout ultimately made my morning so freaking amazing.

I’m happy. I’m glad I got some endorphins out. I’m elated that I was kind to myself this morning. Just a reminder for all of you to also do the same. It’s a nice feeling 🙂

The Desire to be a Good Person

After venting about something I did yesterday, my roommate said to me “Esha, you don’t have to be THAT good of a person. No one is that good or perfect.” Though she said it jokingly, it stuck with me.

The “Self-Help” area of content has been on the rise – especially since the pandemic began in 2020. More and more people are becoming popular on YouTube, many more are creating amazing podcasts, others are writing killer novels. Every one of them has a different way of conveying, essentially, the same message about life: how to be better human beings.

One of the most notable people known for helping people find inner peace and develop better lifestyles is Jay Shetty. I watched so many of Jay’s YouTube videos and listened to several of his podcast episodes throughout 2020. He speaks about our natural human tendencies and offers solutions to become “better” people.

One of the things that stayed with me after reading his book, Think Like a Monk, was the chapter on gossiping. He claims that “negative feelings come out in the form of complaints, comparisons, and criticism. All three are dangerous traps to fall into because they cause us to forget the blessings we have in our own lives.”

I remember after reading that chapter, I started questioning everything about my existence LMAO 😂 . I felt like a terrible human for complaining to my mom that day about something someone did and venting to my friend about this other person for doing something terrible.

However, here I am, in college, surrounded by amazingly amazing people. At the same time, I’m also surrounded by people who breed negativity and toxicity. I learned that I do not need to feel guilty for talking about people who truly hurt my soul. It does, on the other hand, scare the crap out of me when I speak about the amazingly amazing people (I’m not sure if this made sense, but I’m just trying to get my feelings out here ya’ll 🙈).

That’s when Shivani told me that it’s okay. It’s okay to go back to our natural human tendencies. Us human beings are natural gossipers, and sometimes, no matter how hard we try, that inner sapien self comes out. This is when we have to be gentle with ourselves. This is also when we must realize that it is impossible to be a “perfect” person. We’re all flawed. And yes, it’s an amazing thing to be able to recognize our flaws and work on them. But it’s also okay if we mess up. We’re messy people living in a messy world.